Once I got into a fight with my friend over who was better: Madonna or Kylie Minogue. I argued Madonna, and in her defense I pointed out that Kylie Minogue was totally MIA while Madonna was still going strong. “She has CANCER!” my friend shamed my argument while laughing at my ignorant faux pas. Jane Pratt, founding editor of Sassy, Jane, and the new blog xoJane, is calling out her critics in exactly the same way in a post that she published today: “Why My Boobs Are Huge.” It wasn’t plastic surgery paid for by her (non-extant) husband that made her cleavage stand out in a press photo taken years ago, but a miscarriage of five-month-old twins – so there, rude commenters, now who feels dumb? But her blog post doesn’t just shut up the galleys; it teaches an important but oft-shushed health lesson for women in their adult years: Miscarriages are common, and conceiving children can be tough.
In “Why My Boobs Are Huge,” Pratt’s discussing a specific pic that was taken about five years ago, when she was leaving Jane, and she wants to right some wrong assumptions that were made about the appearance of her breasts:
Because of my bustiness, the presumption some people made, and wrote or said to me, was that I’d gotten breast implants or was holding my arms that way to squeeze my chest together to produce more cleavage. Actually, my boobs were big because I had just had a miscarriage of twins at about 5 months gestation shortly before the photo was taken. If you’ve ever been pregnant (and I was very largely pregnant), you know what it does to your breasts.
She doesn’t have to say it, but to be sure we’re all on the same page: We may all want to think twice before presuming to talk about other women’s breasts. But the really important health lesson that I think Pratt brings to the table (not that checking our presumptions about other women’s breasts isn’t important) is that miscarriage is normal, and it’s also fairly common. The miscarriage responsible for Jane’s larger-than-usual breasts wasn’t even her first; she had a miscarriage eight weeks into her second pregnancy at age 40, and conceived the twins thanks to in vitro treatments (only after other, miscarried, insemination tries):
The twins were so far along that I had to go through labor to deliver them, in the room adjacent to where I had delivered my daughter a couple of years before. I know some of you have been through miscarriages and stillbirths and know how unfathomably painful it is on so many levels to deliver children you know won’t make it on this earth. There was also the point afterward where the nurse/a grief counselor?/someone at the hospital asked me and my wonderful partner Andrew if we wanted to hold the babies, have a funeral to bury them or let the hospital “dispose” of them. This is all really hard to write about. Andrew and I had such trouble talking about it that it caused rifts between us, which I know is also common.
This is hardly a feel-good story, but Pratt’s honesty is refreshing, in a world where we mostly discuss things like miscarriage and fertility in terms of sterile statistics and unemotional facts. The reality, as Pratt points out, is that having kids is tough (before you’ve even had them) and it can be dangerous for your health. (“…It was a (rare) result of the in vitro with multiples that had caused me to develop gall bladder issues and pancreatitis and lose the twins and then spend eleven days in the hospital, first on life support, then with a 50/50 chance I wouldn’t live,” she says.)
Does that mean we don’t want to do it? We might be waiting longer, but on average, it seems like most women are still ready to take one for the team. Now, more of us need to start talking about the reality of what that means for our bodies, our health, and our emotions, instead of the mysterious size of other women’s breasts.